How to Setup a Company in Dubai International Financial Centre Free Zone?

by Zaara 17, Oct 2019

How to Setup a Company in Dubai International Financial Centre Free Zone?

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is a free zone in Dubai that was launched as the first UAE financial economic zone. Currently, it is the only fully functional financial zone in the Emirates, with Abu Dhabi Financial Centre picking up as of 2016. Its strategic geographical location in Dubai enables access to vast business opportunities deriving from the emerging markets in the region. The DIFC Authority regulates and oversees the operations, development, and administration of this Free Zone. The free zone authority is allocated to creating value for its various stakeholders. This commitment is expressed in DIFCS's four-tiered management strategy namely-

  1. Dubai Vision- To contribute toward Dubai’s reputation as a global business hub by maintaining international standards, developing international relations, business and employment creation, and economic development.
  2. Financial Sustainability- Ensure financial sustainability of DIFC and the companies established in the centre through a program of resource alignment, financial risk management, and competitive benchmarking.
  3. Infrastructure Development- Provide a world-class physical, legal, and regulatory infrastructure which has been tailor-made for the requirements of the financial and professional service community.
  4. Client Centric- Support the growth of clients through authority business process streamlining, service improvement, and enhanced management structures geared towards a superior client experience.

Advantages of Business Setup in DIFC Free Zone

There are a lot of businessmen around the world who has been setting up a business in Dubai. DIFC is for those businesses who are more into finance and establishing a business in this zone will come with a lot of benefits. They are-

  • 100% foreign ownership
  • Full repatriation of capital and profits
  • DIFC provides an international regulatory environment
  • The free zone has civil and commercial laws and an independent judicial system
  • Zero tax on corporate income and profits for all the new establishments

Procedure to Start a Business in DIFC Free Zone

Business people interested in setting up operations in the DIFC free zone are required to submit an application to DIFC’s regulatory body, the Dubai Financial Service Authority (DFSA), which will consider the merits and sustainability of the applicant and the category of license for which the application is made. Let understand what happens once you submit the application.

At the primary stage of registering the business, an introductory meeting is held with the Dubai International Financial Centre. Once the DFSA has informally evaluated the submission, the entrepreneurs can lodge the full application, including a Regulatory Business Plan. The free zone authority will carry out an initial review of the application documents to ensure they are in good order and will then carry out its own due diligence and enter into an ongoing dialogue with the application. Once the issuance of the In-Principle Approval, the applicant is required to attend the following-

  1. Registration or incorporation of the entity with the DIFC Registrar of Companies (ROC)
  2. Opening a corporate bank account and providing the DFSA with proof of payment of capital
  3. Evidence of office space from which it will carry out its activities of finance

Once all the conditions are fulfilled, the DFSA grants a license to the applicant. Guidelines and requirements for processing the application vary according to the type of regulated entity.

Types of Office Spaces in DIFC FZ

The different types of office space provided in the DIFC Free Zone are as follows-

  • Commercial Office Space- It includes many attractive options like,
    • Facilities management
    • Utilities including the central cooling system and emergency power
    • 24-hour security with CCTV surveillance
    • IT packages and integrated data centre solutions
    • Fit-out technical consultation
    • P.O boxes within the centre
    • Parking
    • Conference and catering facilities
  • Co-working Spaces- This is a DIFC work hub that offers cost-effective and flexible co-working spaces, backed by an enabling infrastructure and passage to a financial community over 22,000 professionals working across more than 2,000 firms.
  • Retail Spaces- DIFC leases office space to a range of retail businesses from restaurants, art galleries, grocery stores, pharmacies, nurseries, fitness centres, health and beauty outlets, and technology and office support.
  • Business Centres- DIFC’s Business Centres provide multi-purpose offices with impressive high-tech services, dedicated IT support and meeting rooms and engage in corporate, networking, education or cultural activities.
  • Event Spaces- DIFC offers spectacular and inspiring event spaces that can be modified to suit any occasion. The expansive space can be used for major launch events hosting several thousand guests or a smaller, more intimate reception for a hundred people or less.

Types of Business Activities in DIFC

  • Banking
  • Private Banking
  • Investment Banking
  • Brokerage
  • Capital Markets
  • Insurance, Reinsurance, and captives
  • Fund Management
  • Asset Management
  • Wealth Management
  • Private Equity
  • Islamic Finance
  • Fintech

If you want to set up any of the aforementioned activities in the DIFC free zone, then we at Commitbiz can help you with it. Our advisors have years of experience in this field and can make the business setup process hassle-free. Contact us today- we’d be happy to assist you.


Who issues licenses and oversees the operations of all banking institutions in the DIFC?

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) licenses and oversees all banking and financial organisations in the DIFC.

Does DIFC have an individual judicial system?


Does DIFC have an individual judicial system?


What are the types of entities in the DIFC?

  • Accepting deposits

  • Providing credit

  • Providing money services

  • Dealing in investments as principal

  • Dealing in investments as an agent

  • Arranging deals in investments 

  • Managing assets 

  • Advising on financial products 

  • Managing a collective investment fund

How is the DIFC made up?

The DIFC has three independent bodies:

  • The DIFC Authority (DIFCA).

  • The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA).

  • The Dispute Resolution Authority (DRA)

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